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Electric TrucksNewsTop StoriesTrucking

Delayed again: Tesla puts off electric Class 8 Semi production until 2022

First-mover advantage in danger as legacy truck manufacturers close gap

Tesla Inc. has again delayed production of the battery electric-powered Semi, endangering its first-mover advantage as established truck makers begin delivering zero-emission Class 8 models that Tesla’s 2017 announcement prompted them to make.

“I never actually believed they had much of a first-mover advantage because I never believed they would deliver it in the time frame that they announced,” Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights, told FreightWaves. 

“They had a first-announcer advantage, definitely, but by the time that thing gets to market, there’s going to be some competition for it.”

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) originally targeted 2019 for production of the Semi, which it promoted as being capable of traveling 300 miles between charging.


“I never actually believed [Tesla] had much of a first-mover advantage because I never believed they would deliver it in the time frame that they announced.”

Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights

But the shortage of battery cells and delays in developing a structural battery pack for its 4680 cells prompted Tesla to devote battery production to meet demand for its electric cars. A Semi requires five times as many batteries as a single passenger car, CEO Elon Musk has said.

Competition rising

The competition prompted by the Semi is already growing. Traditional truck makers Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo Trucks North America and the Freightliner brand of Daimler Trucks North America are taking orders for delivery in 2022. Startup Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) plans to begin producing its battery-electric daycab in the fourth quarter this year..

The latest delay for Tesla was covered in a single sentence in a product update of a second-quarter investor deck released Monday afternoon.

“To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022.”

The factories referenced are new plants nearing completion in Austin, Texas, and Berlin. Both will initially produce the company’s Model Y and Model 3, the lowest-priced and highly profitable electric cars.

In Austin, Tesla will ramp production of the Model Y before beginning production of the Cybertruck pickup, which while polarizing in design, has attracted hundreds of thousands of customer reservations.

Electric vehicle maker Tesla reports first quarterly billion-dollar profit

Semi tough: Tesla electric Class 8 truck leader departs company

Tesla mum on Semi progress as it posts record income

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

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